How To Decrease Risk of Presenteeism When Ending Remote Working
When the pandemic-led crisis forced many organizations to embrace remote work protocols, another crisis cropped up to thwart productivity: presenteeism.
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Absenteeism has always been considered a big problem in business workplaces, and most entrepreneurs try to deal with this to ensure that their organization remains productive. When the pandemic-led crisis forced many organizations to embrace work from home or remote work protocols, another crisis cropped up to thwart productivity. This new problem is called presenteeism.
Presenteeism means showing presence while not remaining productive enough as desired for the job role. The problem has particularly become rampant in some employees working remotely or from home. When hiring remote developers for a project, you see all the team members present on the web. Still, the output is not satisfactory, making the company doubt the work ethics of respective team members.
Whether it is about managing remote developers or just managing the regular work of employees working from home for a financial institution or any other company, the problem of presenteeism has emerged as a significant threat to productivity. Presenteeism also applies to inhouse staff making less productive output due to sickness or health issues.
The Problem of Presenteeism for People Working From Home
In the case of remote work, the problem of presenteeism is most rampant and commonplace than with in-office work. The health issues, depression, stress and other factors that eat away employees' productivity at the workplace can be dealt with more directly and in a planned manner.
When it comes to the productivity of people working from home, the main problem is monitoring their work schedule and working time. When you are working from home and responding to emails and chat messages from the managers and other team members, you are considered very much at work. But when this continuous presence at work can only produce partial results compared to your in-office working hours, the problem of presenteeism looms large.
Disillusionment With Remote Work
Many types of research suggested several times that companies can make huge savings, enhance employee morale, and get onboard the most desired talents by allowing them work-at-home options. Despite this, why are many of these employers now calling their remote workers back into the office? Is this some disillusionment with remote work? We need to find out.
In the US, several big organizations recently reduced the flexibility of working from home for their staff to curb presenteeism and boost employee productivity. It was started by the Bank of New York Mellon Corp and soon followed by a league of large corporations, including IBM, Yahoo, Aetna, and many others.
Behind this decision, there can be several viewpoints and findings at work. Let's figure out a few of them.
Employees working remotely or from their home might not have proper training or resources to maintain productivity just as their 9 to 5 office jobs.
Supervisors or managers are not adequately trained to manage a large pool of work from home.
There can be a severe trust deficit between the employers and employees regarding the commitment to work resulting in siloed processes and lack of productivity.
There can be a sharp downturn in terms of productivity and output with the staff working from home.
All these factors can be at work simultaneously to make remote work problematic for the large corporations who need to stay focused on productivity. Though this doesn't imply that disillusionment with remote work has been accepted, at least remote will cease to be rampant as a practice across workplaces.
Remote Work Is Still Unquestionable for Productivity and Cost-Saving
Even before the pandemic, remote work or working from home was considered a major trend across many industries simply because the connected world allows a company to create a flexible workplace, saving more money and long-term overhead cost. The pandemic led to the crisis, and lockdown measures pushed the situation into a roller coaster. Now almost a majority of IT staff across companies work still remotely.
In many industries where working from home used to be considered an exceptional privilege is given only because of sickness or rare conditions, now there is a considerable staff who work remotely at least for some days in a week. In the past few years, this population of remote workers has grown substantially in many industries like telecommunication, software development, and maintenance, information systems, engineering, architecture, training and education, research, etc. Many conventional industries and workplaces hopped on to this bandwagon of remote work to stay active and operational in the last year.
IBM long ago felt the money-saving opportunities created by remote workers. Naturally, this IT giant freed around 58 million square feet of real estate space for its offices over the years. More than one-third of IBM employees worldwide have no offices at all.
Despite this new crisis of presenteeism, remote work will continue to thrive simply because, in a connected world, enterprises and their employees cannot evolve back to the traditional workplaces with all their disadvantages and costs. The way IBM called thousands of its employees back to physical offices again can only be a temporary measure to curb presenteeism and turn the work process back on a productive track. But this doesn't push remote work out of the table.
Despite the problem of presenteeism, remote work is still irreplaceable in a connected world where online jobs make up the vast majority of work processes. However, how companies will deal with presenteeism without knocking off the advantages of remote work is yet to be seen in the days to come.
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